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The laboratory is the workplace of a magus. Usually a dedicated room (or sometimes an entire building), it is here he delves deep into the study of magic. The fruits of such labors are great magical power and fantastical enchanted items, but the budding researcher needs to be careful. Sometimes the very powers he tries to command run wild. But maybe the fame and fortune that inevitably would follow a Hermetic Breakthrough is worth risking an explosion or two...
Ars Magica 5:th edition describes some basic laboratory activities that a magus can perform in his laboratory. These include:
- Fixing Arcane Connections.
- Extracting and transferring vis.
- Learning and inventing new spells.
- Creating and investigating magical items.
- Attuning a talisman.
- Developing a Longevity Ritual.
- Bonding a familiar.
These activities were expanded upon in supplements to include:
Working in the laboratory
Laboratory work is usually performed over the course of one or more seasons. During this time, the magus retreats into his laboratory to focus on the task he has chosen to work on.
Requirements for laboratory work
In order to begin his research, a magus needs a laboratory (obviously). Laboratories are built and furnished by a magus over the course of two seasons and require a big enough room to accommodate all the needed equipment. While it is possible to get a laboratory up and running in just one season, this only creates the most basic and simple of laboratories. The magus setting up the laboratory also needs sufficient knowledge in Magic Theory to know what he is doing.
The Laboratory Total
The progress of laboratory projects is measured by the Laboratory Total, or the Lab Total. This statistic is a measurement of how much and how quickly a magus can work. If the Lab Total is higher than a set value which depends on the task the magus is working on, the magus can progress and eventually finish his project. If the Lab Total is lower, the magus lacks the required knowledge to perform the project and cannot work on it.
Boosting the Laboratory Total
If a magus finds that his knowledge is slightly insufficient to perform his chosen task, he can temporarily increase his Lab Total in a few ways.
- Using raw vis: A magus can make use of vis to temporarily boost his Lab Total. However, some magi consider this a waste of vis, as the boost only lasts for a season and requires a constant influx of more vis if the project takes several seasons.
- Finding an assistant: A magus can enlist the help of an assistant in his laboratory. The assistant gives a boost to the magus' Lab Total and also adds any applicable Virtues or Flaws of his to the project. This boost can be negative.
Experimentation is a special way in which a magus can work on his projects. Ordinarily, the magus works carefully to complete his projects and runs little risk of accidents. Sometimes, though, the project is of such character that the magus has to push past the limits of his knowledge. This is a dangerous activity, as the results of his experimentation are far from certain. The project may merely end in nothing gained during the season, the magus having hit a dead end. Sometimes the project is twisted in some way, giving raise to weird magic. Or, for the truly unfortunate, the laboratory may turn into a hellish inferno. However, such accidents are incredibly rare and it is more likely that the project will end in some favorable result. Maybe even some form of discovery that increases the magus’ understanding of magic.
Vis in the laboratory
There are some lab projects which require raw vis. These kinds of projects mostly involve the creation of magical items or the binding of a familiar. As mentioned above, vis can also be used to boost the Lab Total. The amount of vis a magus can use in one season depends on his Magic Theory score.
Expansions to the laboratory in supplements
There exists several expansions in supplements to the way the laboratory works. Some are listed below by the supplement that added the expansion:
- Covenants: This supplement greatly expanded how the laboratory is treated in ars magica. The laboratory is given its own statistics, similar to a magus' characteristics. These statistics describe how big the laboratory is, how impressive and how safe it is, among others. Covenants also added Virtues and Flaws for both laboratories and covenants and provided suggestions on how a magus can customize his time spent in the lab. Covenants also provided rules for new types of arcane books that a magus can write and study. It also gave some suggestions on how books can be further personalized.
- Houses of Hermes: True Lineages: This supplement to ars magica added the concept of original research. Original research is a project which a magus can undertake in the laboratory in an attempt to expand the Hermetic theory of magic. Most original research merely adds or expands on some small detail in Hermetic theory. But sometimes, someone stumbles upon some great discovery that can shake the very foundations of history.
- "Ars Magica Fifth Edition", p. 94, "Laboratory"
- "Houses of Hermes: True Lineages", p. 26, "Original Research"
- "Ars Magica Fifth Edition", p. 102, "Writing Laboratory Texts"
- "Ars Magica Fifth Edition", p. 94, "Creating a Laboratory"
- "Ars Magica Fifth Edition", p. 94, "Basic Laboratory Activities"
- "Ars Magica Fifth Edition", p. 103, "Help in the Laboratory"
- "Ars Magica Fifth Edition", p. 107, "Arcane Experiments"
- "Ars Magica Fifth Edition", p. 94, "Vis"
- "Covenants (Fifth Edition)", p. 106, "Laboratories"
The history of this page before August 6, 2010 is archived at Legacy:laboratory